Earlier this year it was announced that HBO’s incredibly popular and successful show Game of Thrones would be concluding after two more seasons. This was not only heartbreaking news to fans of Thrones but for HBO. How would they fill the massive gap left behind? Westworld might be the solution…but it isn’t a guarantee.
Let’s get two things out of the way…first, if you think Westworld is a traditional “western” that is far from accurate and secondly, this isn’t anything like Game of Thrones. With that in mind, the premiere of Westworld was captivating, intriguing and slightly underwhelming.
Westworld is inspired by the 1973 film of the same title which was written by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Prey). Westworld is a futuristic theme park which is populated by robots with artificial intelligence, who flawlessly embrace their human form. Visitors to the park can jump into these active storylines and enter into an old-west “chose your own adventure” in which the journey has no boundaries. Murder, rape, and any sexual fantasy can all be played out.
Showrunners Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight, Person of Interest) and Lisa Joy Nolan have brought Westworld to life in a way that is not only visually stunning but inviting. As the audience, we are also entering into the park and behind-the-scenes; a two-way mirror into the events taking place. It should come as no surprise that Nolan is setting up many different storylines, with key details missing. After this premiere episode, you are intrigued to learn more but might have more questions compared to answers.
The cast of Westworld is where the show brings its true a-game. Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright are all playing key worlds within this new universe.
Hollywood heavyweights, Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins do not disappoint. Jeffrey Wright (Hunger Games: Catching Fire) is instantly captivating. He’s portrayal of his character brings into question the balance between science and what drives humanity forward. Evan Rachel Wood is the most complex robot seen on screen since Ava (Alicia Vikander) in Ex-Machina. Her performance is chilling.
Putting aside production and the all-star cast, the most captivating portion of Westworld was exploring the disconnect between the visitors to the park and how they interacted with the artificials. It’s a study of humanity and the lengths we will go to in order to experience true escapism without consequences.
The themes of Westworld range psychological profile on human nature to a true sci-fi epic and it’s one intense, crazy ride for the audience. Providing us our own form of escapism from the current reality.
HBO is hoping for a home run and with Westworld, I believe they hit a double. Not bad for a premiere but this world and characters need to be developed more. This could be a case of when looking back on the whole series, we see the pieces being put into place that can impact things several seasons down the road.
After the debut episode concluded, I was engaged enough to return but Westworld will need to create a following in order to replace the powerhouse that is Game of Thrones.
I will be reviewing Westworld as a series, as well as, individual episodes.